JIS News

Farmers with common law titles and good farming projects, could soon be able to borrow money to improve their operations, under a collateral-free loan scheme.
Minster of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton, along with a team of experts, is looking at instituting the loan scheme, which will be modelled from the Grameen collateral-free micro financing system.
The proposed scheme will add to the $250 million allocated for overall agricultural improvement and $1 billion for small business development, including agricultural enterprises.
The Minister, who was addressing Monday’s (Nov. 24) JIS ‘Think Tank’, said that the aim is to put more capital in the farmers’ hands as primary producers, and improve their earning power and quality of life.
“Financing is a big part of the challenge to revitalise the agricultural sector as agricultural production carries more risks,” Minister Tufton said.
The primary providers of funding have been the Development Bank of Jamaica and the People’s Co-operative Bank and many farmers do not meet the lending criteria of these agencies.
Farmers with insurance, full technical support from the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) extension officer programme, who follow certain guidelines, are closely monitored, and pose less risk, will be able to access funding without traditional forms of collateral, under a loan scheme similar to the Grameen one, the Agriculture Minister explained.
The Grameen Bank was first established in Bangladesh, as an alternative funding source for rural poor and especially women. It became a success story and a model for micro financing worldwide.
Today Grameen funding agencies work with 55 micro financing institutions worldwide, with 6.8 million clients in 24 countries. The founder, Professor Muhammad Yunus, was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2006.
The Grameen philosophy is that access to credit allows people in rural communities to break free from the trap of poverty, explore their potential and create wealth.
Minister Tufton, in his sectoral plan for agriculture, has consistently stressed his commitment to ensuring food stability and security, rural development, and re-valuing the farmer and farming, in an overall bid to re-vitalise the agricultural sector. His approach has focussed on technical support, research and funding, as key areas.

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